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Gert's Dirt: Dec. 13

Donna Bellino for the Lake County News-Chronicle

Each year we pull out those same old Christmas decorations. They tend to get dusty over the years. If you want to show the spirit of the season try these tips to clean them.

To make ornaments sparkle like new, fill a towel lined sink with warm water and a few drops of dish soap.  Dip each ornament into the soapy water and agitate gently. Rinse and carefully dry with a cloth.  For ornaments that are hand- painted, fabric, or otherwise should not get wet, use a soft, clean paint brush and gently brush the dust away.

Breathe new life into dusty garland or other faux foliage. If it is made of plastic or silk, swish it in a sink of soapy water, then rinse and air dry on an absorbent towel. Another method to clean these items is to place them in a paper bag along with 1/4 cup of table salt. Fold over the top to seal, and shake the bag. The salt will remove the dust from the garland.

Did you know that you can wash wicker baskets? Swish in warm, soapy water, rinse with the sprayer then air dry.

An artificial Christmas tree accumulates dirt and dust while being displayed, and from 11 months in storage. Here is how to clean it:

• Remove the tree from the box or bag.

• Set it up on an old sheet or plastic to catch dust that falls as you clean.

• Using your vacuum on the lowest suction setting, use the upholstery brush attachment in an inconspicuous place on the tree to ensure that it doesn’t cause damage.If the suction is too much put a cheese cloth or sock over the end of the attachment.

• Go to the top of the tree and vacuum each branch. Then, to remove any musty odor, dip a cloth into soapy water, wring it out well and wipe each branch. If the tree has built-in lights,be sure to unplug the tree first.

Other tips for a sparkling clean holiday season:

• Most Christmas stockings have to be dry cleaned. If they are a knit stocking you may be able to hand wash them.

• Christmas lights are only meant to be used for 90 days or so. It is best to buy them on clearance after the holidays so you can put up fresh, clear and sparkling ones the following year.

• A sticky problem we experience this time of year is tree sap. The safest and easiest way to remove this from hands or hair is with mayonnaise. Just rub it on then wash with soap and water. If it gets on your carpet or tree skirt, try some hand sanitizer on a soft cloth. Rub the spot until the sap dissolves.

• Glitter looks lovely on a decoration but when it has spilled on the floor, table, or onto fabric, it can be a challenge to clean up. If vacuuming does not work or is not convenient, try a sticky lint roller.

• If you use a real tree, the falling needles can make a mess. Keep your tree well watered and try to keep the sun from baking it during the day. Use a nice tree skirt that is big enough to catch the falling needles. If they get into your carpet and get stepped on, they can really hurt! Use the vacuum cleaner hose to get each and every one.

I hope these hints help you to have a beautiful Holiday display! Best wishes and Happy Holidays!

Donna Bellino is a nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!